On the Miserable State of Relapsing Sinners
by Saint Alphonsus Liguori
I Hope, my Dear Christians, that as Christ is Risen, you have, in this Holy
Pascal Time (Easter), gone to Confession, and have
Risen from your Sins. But, attend to what Saint Jerome teaches - that Many begin Well, but Few
Persevere. "Incipere multorum est, perseverare paucorum". Now the Holy Ghost
declares, that he who 'Perseveres' in Holiness to Death, and not they who
'Begin' a Good Life, shall be Saved. "But he that shall
Persevere to the End, he shall be Saved" - Matthew 24:13. The Crown of Paradise, says Saint Bernard, is
'Promised' to those who Commence, but is 'Given' only to those who Persevere. "Inchoantibus praemium promittitur,
perseverantibus datur". Since, then, Brethren, you have Resolved-to give yourselves to God, listen-to the
Admonition-of the Holy Ghost: "SON, when thou comest to the Service of God, Stand in Justice
and in Fear, and Prepare thy Soul for Temptation" - Ecclesiasticus 2:1. Do not Imagine that you shall have no-more
Temptations, but Prepare yourself for the Combat, and Guard against a
Relapse into the Sins you have Confessed; for, if you
Lose the Grace of God again, you shall find it Difficult to
Recover it. I intend this day to show you the Miserable State of Relapsing Sinners;
that is, of those who after Confession, Miserably Fall Back into the
Sins which they Confessed.
Since, then, Dearly Beloved Christians, you have made a Sincere Confession of your
Sins, Jesus Christ says to you what He said to the
Paralytic: "Behold thou art made Whole: Sin no more, lest some Worse Thing happen to thee" - John 5:14.
By the Confessions which you have made, your Souls are
Healed, but not as yet Saved; for, if you Return-to Sin,
you shall be again Condemned to Hell, and the Injury caused by the
Relapse, shall be far Greater than that which you Sustained-from your Former Sins.
"Audis", says Saint Bernard, "recidere quam incedere, esse deterius". If a Man
recover-from a Mortal Disease, and afterwards fall-back into it, he shall have Lost so much of his Natural Strength,
that his Recovery-from the Relapse, will be Impossible. This is precisely what happens to Relapsing Sinners; returning-to
the Vomit - that is, taking back-into the Soul, the
Sins Vomited-forth in Confession - they shall be so Weak, that they will
become Objects-of Amusement to the Devil. Saint Anselm says, that the
Devil acquires a certain Dominion-over them, so that he makes them Fall, and
Fall-again, as he Wishes. Hence the Miserable Beings become like Birds, with which
a Child amuses himself. He allows them, from time-to-time, to fly-to a certain-height, and then draws them back-again when he pleases, by means of a Cord,
made Fast-to them. Such is the Manner in which the Devil treats Relapsing Sinners.
"Sed quia ab hoste tenentur, volantes in eadem vitia dejiciuntur".
Saint Paul tells us, that we have to Contend not with Men like ourselves, made of Flesh and
Blood, but with the Princes of Hell. "For our
Wrestling is not against Flesh and Blood; but against Principalities and Powers" - Ephesians 6:12. By these Words, he wishes to
Admonish us that we have not Strength to Resist the Powers of Hell, and that
to Resist them, the Divine Aid is absolutely Necessary; with it, we shall, according-to the same Apostle, be able to do
all Things, and shall Conquer all Enemies. "I can do all these things in Him, Who
Strengtheneth me" - Philippians 4:13. But this Assistance, God gives
only to those who Pray for it. "Ask, and it shall be Given you: Seek, and you shall
Find" - Matthew 7:7. They who Neglect to Ask, do not Receive. Let us then be Careful not to
Trust-in our Resolutions; if we place our Confidence in them, we shall be Lost. When we are
Tempted to Relapse into Sin, we must put our Whole Trust in the
Assistance of God, Who Infallibly Hears all
who Invoke His Aid.
"He that thinketh himself to Stand, let him take Heed, lest he Fall" - 1Corinthians 10:12. They who
are in the State of Grace should, according to Saint Paul, be careful not to Fall into
Sin, particularly if they have been ever Guilty of Mortal Sins; for a
Relapse into Sin, brings Greater Evil on the
Soul. "And the Last State of that Man, becomes Worse than the First" - Luke 11:26.
We are told in the Holy Scriptures, that the Enemy "will offer Victims to his
Drag, and he will Sacrifice to his Net: because through them, his Portion is made Fat, and his Meat Dainty" - Habakkuk 1:16. In explaining this
Passage, Saint Jerome says that the Devil seeks to Catch-in his Nets all Men, in-order-to
Sacrifice them to the Divine Justice, by their Damnation.
Sinners, who are Already in the Net, he endeavors-to Wind-with New Chains; but the Friends of
God are his Dainty Meats. To make them his Slaves, and to
Rob them of all they have Acquired, he Prepares Stronger Snares.
"The more Fervently", says Denis the Carthusian, "a Soul endeavors to Serve God, the more Fiercely
does the Adversary rage against her". The Closer the Union of a Christian with
God, and the Greater his Efforts to Serve God, the more the Enemy is Armed-with
Rage, and the more Strenuously he Labors to enter-into the Soul, from which he has
been Expelled. "When", says the Redeemer,
"the Unclean Spirit is gone out of a Man, he walketh through Places without Water, seeking Rest; and not finding, he saith: I will
Return into my House whence I came out" - Luke 11:24. Should he Succeed-in Reentering, he will not enter Alone, but will bring with
him Associates to Fortify himself in the Soul of which he has Again, got
Possession. Thus, the Second (2nd)
Destruction of that MiserableSoul shall be Greater than the
First (1st). "And the Last State of that Man becomes Worse than the
First" - Luke 11:26.
The Red-hot Sword of Divine Vengeance, Symbolizes Chastisement,
and the Lily at Christ's Right Hand, Symbolizes His Blessing and Forgiveness
To God, the Relapse of Ungrateful
Christians is very Displeasing. Because, after He had
Called and Pardoned them with so much Love,
He sees that, Forgetful-of His Mercies to them, they again Turn their Back upon
Him, and Renounce His Grace. "For if My Enemy
had Reviled Me, I would Verily have Borne with it. And if he that Hated Me had spoken Great Things against Me, I would perhaps have Hidden Myself from him.
But thou, a Man of One Mind, my Guide, and my Familiar, who didst take Sweetmeats together with Me" - Psalm 54:13-15. Had
My Enemy, says the Lord, Insulted
Me, I would have felt Less Pain; but to
see you Rebel-against Me, and after I had Restored
My Friendship to you, and after I had made you Sit-at My
Table, to eat My Own Flesh, Grieves Me
to the Heart, and Impels Me to take Vengeance on you.
Miserable the Man who, after having Received so many Graces from
God, becomes the Enemy, from being the Friend-of God. He shall find the Sword
of Divine Vengeance prepared to Chastise him.
"And he that Passeth over, from Justice to Sin, God hath Prepared such an One for the Sword" - Ecclesiasticus 26:27.
Some of you may say: If I Relapse, I will soon Rise again; for I will Immediately Prepare myself for Confession.
To those who Speak in this Manner, shall happen what Befell Samson. He allowed himself to be
Deluded by Delilah; while he was Asleep, she Cut-off his Hair, and his Strength Departed-from him. Awaking from Sleep, he said: "I
will go out as I did before, and Shake myself, not knowing that the Lord was Departed from him" - Judges 16:20. He expected-to Deliver himself,
as on Former Occasions, from the Hands-of the Philistines. But, because his Strength had Departed-from him, he was made their Slave.
They Pulled-out his Eyes, and Binding him in Chains, Shut him up in Prison. After Relapsing
into Sin, a Christian Loses the Strength necessary-to Resist
Temptations, because the Lord Departs from him. He
Abandons him by 'Withholding' the Efficacious Aid, necessary-to 'Overcome' Temptations;
and the Miserable Man remains Blind and Abandoned,
in his Sin.
"No Man, putting his Hand to the Plough, and Looking-back, is Fit for the Kingdom of God" - Luke 9:62.
Behold a Faithful Picture of a Relapsing Sinner. Mark the Words, No Man: No one,
says Jesus Christ, who Begins-to Serve Me, and Looks-back, is Fit to enter
Heaven. According to Origen, the addition-of a New Sin to the One
Committed before, is like the Addition-of a New Wound, to a Wound just
Inflicted. "Cum peccatum peccatoadjicitur, sicut vulnus vulneri". If a
Wound be Inflicted on any Member of the Body, that Member certainly
Loses its Original Vigor. But, if it receives a Second (2nd)
Wound, it shall Lose all Strength and Motion, without
Hope of Recovery. The Great Evil of a Relapse into Sin is, that it Renders
the Soul so Weak, that She has but Little Strength
to Resist Temptation. For, says Saint Thomas, "After a Fault has been Remitted, the Dispositions
Produced by the Preceding Acts, Remain" - The Stain of Sin. Every
Sin, though Pardoned, always leaves a Wound on
the Soul. When, to this Wound, a New One is added,
the Soul becomes so Weak that, without a Special
and Extraordinary Grace from God, it is Impossible for
Her to Conquer Temptations.
Let us then, Brethren, Tremble at the Thought-of Relapsing into
Sin, and let us Beware of Availing ourselves of the Mercy
of God, to continue-to Offend Him. "He",
says Saint Augustine, "Who has Promised Pardon to Penitents, has Promised Repentance to no one".
God has indeed Promised-to Pardon all who Repent-of their
Sins; but He has not Promised to anyone the Grace to
Repent-of the Faults which he has committed. Sorrow
for Sin is a Pure Gift of God; if
He withholds it, how will you Repent? And without
Repentance, how can you obtain Pardon? Ah! the Lord will not allow
Himself to be Mocked. "Be not Deceived", says
Saint Paul, "God is not Mocked" - Galations 6:7. Saint Isidore tells us that the Man who Repeats the
Sin, which he before Detested, is not Penitent, but a
Scoffer of God's Majesty. "Irrisor, et non poenitens est,
pui adhue agit, quod poenitet". And Tertullian teaches, that, where there is no Amendment, Repentance
is not Sincere. "Ubi emendatio nulla, poenitentia nulla".
"Be Penitent", said Saint Peter in a Discourse-to the Jews, "and be Converted,
that your Sins may be Blotted out" - Acts 3:19. Many Repent, but are not
Converted. They feel a certain Sorrow for the Irregularities of their Lives,
but do not Sincerely return-to God. They go to Confession, Strike their
Breasts, and Promise-to Amend; but they do not make a Firm Resolution to Change their Lives. They who Resolve
Firmly on a Change of Life, Persevere, or at least Preserve themselves for a considerable Time in the
Grace of God. But they who Relapse into Sin, soon after
Confession, show, as Saint Peter says, that they Repent, but are not
Converted; and such Persons shall in the End, Die an Unhappy
Death. "Plerumque", says Saint Gregory, "mali sic compunguntur ad justitiam, sicut
plerumque boni tentantur ad culpam". As the Just have Frequent Temptations
to Sin, but Yield not to them, because their Will
Abhors them, so Sinners feel certain Impulses to Virtue; but these are not
Sufficient-to Produce a True Conversion. The Wise Man tells us that Mercy shall be
shown to him who Confesses his Sins and Abandons them, but not to those who
Confess their Transgressions. "He that Hideth his Sins,
shall not Prosper: but he that shall Confess, and Forsake them, shall obtain Mercy" - Proverbs 28:13. He, then, who does not Give-up,
but Returns to Sin after Confession, shall not Obtain
Mercy from God, but shall Die a
Victim of Divine Justice. He may expect to Die the
Death of a certain Young Englishman, who, as is related in the History of England, was in the Habit of
Relapsing into Sins against Purity. He always
Fell Back into these Sins after Confession. At
the Hour of Death, he Confessed his Sins, and
Died in a Manner which gave Reason to Hope for his
Salvation. But, while a Holy Priest was Celebrating or Preparing-to Celebrate Mass for his
Departed Soul, the Miserable Young Man appeared
to him, and said that he was Damned. He added that, at the Point of Death, being
Tempted to Indulge a Bad Thought, he felt himself, as-it-were, Forced-to Consent,
and as he was Accustomed to do in the Former Part of his Life, he Yielded-to the Temptation,
and thus was Lost.
Is there then no Means-of Salvation for Relapsing Sinners?
I do not say this; but I adopt the Maxim of Physicans. "In magnis morbis a magnis initium medendi sumere oportet". In
Malignant Diseases, Powerful Remedies are Necessary. To Return-to the Way of Salvation,
the Relapsing Sinner must do Great Violence to himself. "The
Kingdom of Heaven Suffereth Violence, and the Violent bear it away" - Matthew 11:12. In the Beginning-of a New Life, the
Relapsing Sinner must do Violence to himself, in-order-to Root-out the Bad Habits
which he has Contracted, and to Acquire Habits of Virtue; for when he has Acquired Habits of
Virtue, the Observance-of the Divine Commands shall become Easy, and even Sweet. The
Lord once said to Saint Bridget, that, to those who Bear-with Fortitude, the First
(1st) Punctures-of the Thorns which they Experience-in the Attacks-of
the Senses, in Avoiding Occasions of Sin, and in Withdrawing-from
Dangerous Conversations, these Thorns are by-degree, changed-into Roses.
But, to use the Necessary Violence, and to Lead a Life of Regularity, you must Adopt the Proper Means;
otherwise, you shall do Nothing. After Rising in the Morning, you must make Acts of Thanksgiving, of the
Love of God, and of Oblation-of the Actions-of the Day. You must also Renew your
Resolution never to Offend God, and Beg-of Jesus
Christ and His Holy Mother to Preserve
you from Sin during the Day. Afterwards, make your Meditation , and hear
Mass. During the Day, make a Spiritual Lecture and a visit to the Most Holy Sacrament.
In the Evening, say the Rosary and make an Examination of Conscience. Receive the
Holy Communion at least Once a Week, or more Frequently if your Spiritual Director advises you. Be careful to Choose a
Confessor, to whom you will Regularly go to Confession. It is also very useful to make a Spiritual Retreat every Year
in some Religious House. Honor the Mother of God every Day by some particular Devotion,
and by Fasting on every Saturday. She is the Mother
of Perseverance, and Promises to Obtain it, for all who Serve her. "They that Work by me, shall not
Sin" - Ecclesiasticus 24:30. Above all, it is Necessary to ask of God every Morning the
Gift of Perseverance, and to Beg-of the Blessed Virgin to Obtain it for you, and particularly in the Time-of
Temptation, by Invoking the Name of Jesus and Mary,
as-long-as the Temptation lasts. Happy the Man who will continue to Act in this Manner, and shall be found so doing
when Jesus Christ shall come to Judge him. "Blessed is that Servant, whom when his Lord shall
come, he shall find so doing" - Matthew 24:46.
- End of Liguori Sermon -
O Jesus, my Redeemer, I return Thee Thanks, for not having Taken me out of this Life whilst I was Thy Enemy. How many
Years have Passed, since I Deserved to be in Hell! Had I Died on such a Day, or on such a Night, what would have become of me for all Eternity?
My God, I return Thee Thanks. I Accept-of Death, as a Satisfaction-for my Sins, and I Accept-of it the Manner in which it may Please Thee, to send
it to me; but since Thou hast Waited for me until now, Oh, Wait for me yet a little longer. Suffer me, therefore, that I may Lament my Sorrow a
little. Give me Time to Weep over my Offences against Thee, before Thou Comest to Judge me.
I will no longer Resist Thy Calls. Who knows, but these Words, which I have just Read, are Thy Last Call to me? I Acknowledge
that I do not Deserve Mercy: Thou hast Pardoned me so often, and I have again Ungratefully Offended Thee. A Contrite and Humble Heart, O God, Thou
wilt not Despise. Ah, Lord, since Thou canst not Despise a Humble and Penitent Heart, Behold the Traitor who, Humbled and Repentant, has Recourse to
Thee. Cast me not away from Thy Face. Thou hast said, Him that cometh to Me, I will not Cast-out. It is True that I have Offended Thee more than others,
because I have been Favored, more than others, with Light and Grace; but the Blood Thou hast Shed for me, gives me Courage, and Proffers Pardon to me,
if I Repent. Yes, O my Sovereign Good, I do Repent with my Whole Soul, for having Insulted Thee. Pardon me, and give me Grace to Love Thee for the
Future. I have long enough Offended Thee. As for the Remainder of my Life, no, my Jesus, I will not Spend it in Offending Thee; I will Spend it Wholly,
in Weeping over the Displeasure I have given Thee, and in Loving Thee with all my Heart, O God, Worthy of Infinite Love.
O Mary, my Hope, Pray to Jesus for me.
Ancient Miraculous Prayer to Saint Joseph
Patron of Departing Souls
This Prayer was found in the Fiftieth Year of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In
1505 it was sent from the Pope to Emperor Charles, when he was going into Battle. Whoever shall Read this Prayer, or Hear it,
or Keep it about themselves, shall never Die a Sudden Death, or be Drowned, nor shall Poison take-effect on them; neither shall they Fall into the
Hands of the Enemy, nor shall they be Burned in any Fire, nor shall they be Overpowered in Battle.
O Saint Joseph, whose Protection is so Great, so Strong, so Prompt before the Throne of God, I Place in you, all my Interests and
O Saint Joseph, do Assist me by your Powerful Intercession, and Obtain for me from your Divine Son, all Spiritual Blessings
through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having Engaged here below your Heavenly Power, I may Offer my Thanksgiving and Homage to the most Loving of
O Saint Joseph, I never Weary Contemplating you and Jesus Asleep in your Arms; I dare not approach while He Reposes near your
Heart. Press Him in my name and Kiss His Fine Head for me, and ask Him to Return the Kiss when I Draw my Dying Breath, Saint Joseph, Patron of Departing
Souls, Pray for us.
Many Miracles have been attributed to this Daily Prayer.
Make this Prayer known everywhere . . .